Oh Yeah, You Know the Type . . .

Born a Half-Century Ago, Helvetica’s Made a Lasting Impression.

Frank Jordans in the Washington Post:

Ph2007040601989Open a newspaper, look at a street sign, type an e-mail and chances are a Swiss design icon is staring you in the face, though you’d be hard-pressed to identify it.

But peer closely at the shape of the letters: If they’re easy to read and without unnecessary flourishes, then you might well be looking at an example of the Helvetica typeface, which turns 50 this year.

Helvetica lettering adorns images most people can conjure instantly, from New York subway signs to the logos of Harley-Davidson, American Airlines and BMW. But much of the time it remains invisible in a sea of print, unobtrusively conveying the message the designer intended it to.

Unusually for the little-celebrated craft of typography — the design and arrangement of typed letters — the anniversary is being marked in grand fashion, with an exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the release of a film by Gary Hustwit paying homage to what the cult documentary maker calls “one of the most popular ways for us to communicate our words.”

“Helvetica is one of those typefaces that everybody knows, everybody sees, but they don’t really see it at the same time because it’s so good at its job…”

More here.